• Quantification of In Situ Denitrification Rates in Groundwater Below an Arable and a Grassland System

      Jahangir, Mohammad M. R.; Johnston, Paul; Addy, K.; Khalil, Mohammed I.; Groffman, P.M.; Richards, Karl G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF 06383 (Springer Netherlands, 2013-08)
      Understanding denitrification rates in groundwater ecosystems can help predict where agricultural reactive nitrogen (N) contributes to environmental degradation. In situ groundwater denitrification rates were determined in subsoil, at the bedrock-interface and in bedrock at two sites, grassland and arable, using an in situ ‘push-pull’ method with 15N labelled nitrate (NO3--N). Measured groundwater denitrification rates ranged from 1.3 to 469.5 µg N kg-1d-1. Exceptionally high denitrification rates observed at the bedrock-interface at grassland site (470±152µg N kg-1d-1; SE, standard error) suggest that deep groundwater can serve as substantial hotspots for NO3--N removal. However, denitrification rates at the other locations were low and may not substantially reduce NO3--N delivery to surface waters. Denitrification rates were negatively correlated with ambient dissolved oxygen (DO), redox potential (Eh), ks and NO3- (all p-values p<0.01) and positively correlated with SO42- (p<0.05). Higher mean N2O/(N2O+N2) ratios at arable (0.28) site than the grassland (0.10) revealed that arable site has higher potential to indirect N2O emissions. Identification of areas with high and low denitrification and related site parameters can be a tool to manage agricultural N to safeguard the environment.
    • Quantitative risk assessment of antimicrobials in biosolids applied on agricultural land and potential translocation into food

      Clarke, Rachel; Healy, Mark G.; Fenton, Owen; Cummins, Enda; European Union ERASMUS+; 2014-1-MT01-K200-000327 (Elsevier, 2017-12-30)
      The use of biosolids as a fertiliser may be an indirect route for contaminants into the food chain. One of the main concerns regarding the spreading of biosolids on agricultural land is the potential uptake of contaminants into plants which may bio-transfer into grazing animals that supply the food chain directly (e.g. meat and milk) and hence are subsequently consumed. The aim of this project was to create a quantitative risk assessment model to estimate the fate and translocation of triclosan (TCS) and triclocarban (TCC) into the feed (grass) and food chain with subsequent human exposure. The model's results indicate that TCS and TCC have low potential to transfer into milk and beef following the ingestion of contaminated grass by dairy cows. Mean estimated TCS and TCC residues in milk and beef show that TCC had the greatest concentration (mean values of 7.77 × 10− 6 mg kg− 1 in milk and 1.36 × 10− 4 mg kg− 1 in beef). Human exposure results show that TCC was greater for milk consumption in infants (1–4 years) (mean value 1.14 × 10− 7 mg kg− 1 bw d− 1) and for beef consumption by teens (12–17 years) (mean value 6.87 × 10− 8 mg kg− 1 bw d− 1). Concentrations of TCS and TCC were well below the estimated acceptable daily intake (ADI). Human health risk was estimated by evaluation of the hazard quotient (HQ), which used the NOAEL as a toxicity endpoint, combined with milk and beef human exposure estimates. HQ results show that all values were < 0.01 (no existing risk). A sensitivity analysis revealed that the Kow and initial concentration in biosolids as the parameters of greatest importance (correlation coefficients 0.91 and 0.19, respectively). This highlights the importance of physio-chemical properties of the compounds and their detection in biosolids post wastewater treatment along with their persistence in soil following application. This model is a valuable tool in which to ascertain the potential transfer of contaminants in the environment into animal forage with knock on consequences for exposure through the human food chain.
    • Ranking connectivity risk for phosphorus loss along agricultural drainage ditches

      Moloney, Thomas; Fenton, Owen; Daly, Karen; Irish Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 2017-W-LS-15 (Elsevier BV, 2020-02)
      Agricultural drainage systems comprising both in-field pipe drains and surface ditches are typically installed to remove excess water from agricultural land. These drainage networks can provide connectivity between phosphorus (P) sources and surface waters thereby increasing the risk of P loss to rivers and streams. The objective of this study was to derive a farm-scale drainage ranking that categorises drainage ditches in terms of P loss risk based on connectivity and physic-chemical characteristics. Ten pilot farms were selected to characterise drainage networks through ground survey and, sediment and water sampling. Five drainage ditch categories were derived based on landscape setting and connectivity. Each category recorded soluble and reactive P concentrations above environmental water quality standards. To assess the risk of surface ditches as a connectivity vector between agricultural P and surface waters ditches were ranked in order of P loss risk by integrating landscape position and sediment P chemistry. Elevated sediment P with high equilibrium P concentration (EPCo) were associated with ditches connected to farm yards, and in sediment sampled at ditch outlets, suggesting P deposition over time indicative of a legacy P source. The greatest risk of P loss was attributed to ditches connecting farm yards to streams, and ditches that connected the drainage network to surface waters, or Outlets. These results rank connectivity risk for P loss along agricultural drainage ditches for farm level risk assessment to target P loss mitigation measures to the appropriate locations.
    • Ranking hazards pertaining to human health concerns from land application of anaerobic digestate

      Nag, Rajat; Whyte, Paul; Markey, Bryan K.; O'Flaherty, Vincent; Bolton, Declan; Fenton, Owen; Richards, Karl G.; Cummins, Enda; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/SF/847 (Elsevier BV, 2020-03)
      Anaerobic digestion (AD) has been identified as one of the cleanest producers of green energy. AD typically uses organic materials as feedstock and, through a series of biological processes, produces methane. Farmyard manure and slurry (FYM&S) are important AD feedstock and are typically mixed with agricultural waste, grass and/or food wastes. The feedstock may contain many different pathogens which can survive the AD process and hence also possibly be present in the final digestate. In this study, a semi-quantitative screening tool was developed to rank pathogens of potential health concern emerging from AD digestate. A scoring system was used to categorise likely inactivation during AD, hazard pathways and finally, severity as determined from reported human mortality rates, number of global human-deaths and infections per 100,000 populations. Five different conditions including mesophilic and thermophilic AD and three different pasteurisation conditions were assessed in terms of specific pathogen inactivation. In addition, a number of scenarios were assessed to consider foodborne incidence data from Ireland and Europe and to investigate the impact of raw FYM&S application (without AD and pasteurisation). A sensitivity analysis revealed that the score for the mortality rate (S3) was the most sensitive parameter (rank coefficient 0.49) to influence the final score S; followed by thermal inactivation score (S1, 0.25) and potential contamination pathways (S2, 0.16). Across all the scenarios considered, the screening tool prioritised Cryptosporidium parvum, Salmonella spp., norovirus, Streptococcus pyogenes, enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), Mycobacterium spp., Salmonella typhi (followed by S. paratyphi), Clostridium spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter coli as the highest-ranking pathogens of human health concern resulting from AD digestate in Ireland. This tool prioritises potentially harmful pathogens which can emerge from AD digestate and highlights where regulation and intervention may be required.
    • A rapid and multi-element method for the analysis of major nutrients in grass (Lolium perenne) using energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy

      Daly, Karen M.; Fenelon, A. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 21/04/2017)
      Elemental analysis of grass (Lolium perenne) is essential in agriculture to ensure grass quality and animal health. Energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectroscopy is a rapid, multi-element alternative to current methods using acid digestion and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). Percentage phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca), determined from grass samples using EDXRF, were within 0.035, 0.319, 0.025 and 0.061, respectively, of ICP-OES values. Concordance correlation coefficients computed using agreement statistics ranged from 0.4379 to 0.9669 (values close to one indicate excellent agreement); however, the level of agreement for each element depended on the calibrations used in EDXRF. Empirical calibrations gave excellent agreement for percentage P, K and Ca, but moderate agreement for percentage Mg due to a weaker correlation between standards and intensities. Standardless calibration using the fundamental parameters (FP) approach exhibited bias, with consistently lower values reported for percentage P and Mg, when compared with ICP-OES methods. The relationship between the methods was plotted as scatter plots with the line of equality included, and although correlation coefficients indicated strong relationships, these statistics masked the effects of consistent bias in the data for percentage P and Mg. These results highlight the importance of distinguishing agreement from correlation when using statistical methods to compare methods of analysis. Agreement estimates improved when a matching library of grass samples was added to the FP method. EDXRF is a comparable alternative to conventional methods for grass analysis when samples of similar matrix type are used as empirical standards or as a matching library.
    • Real-time forecasting of pesticide concentrations in soil

      McGrath, Gavan; Rao, P. Suresh C.; Mellander, Per-Erik; Kennedy, Ivan; Rose, Michael; van Zwieten, Lukas; Grains Research and Development Corporation grant; Lee A. Reith Endowment in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University; Environmental Protection Agency; DAN00180; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-01-31)
      Forecasting pesticide residues in soils in real time is essential for agronomic purposes, to manage phytotoxic effects, and in catchments to manage surface and ground water quality. This has not been possible in the past due to both modelling and measurement constraints. Here, the analytical transient probability distribution (pdf) of pesticide concentrations is derived. The pdf results from the random ways in which rain events occur after pesticide application. First-order degradation kinetics and linear equilibrium sorption are assumed. The analytical pdfs allow understanding of the relative contributions that climate (mean storm depth and mean rainfall event frequency) and chemical (sorption and degradation) properties have on the variability of soil concentrations into the future. We demonstrated the two uncertain reaction parameters can be constrained using Bayesian methods. An approach to a Bayesian informed forecast is then presented. With the use of new rapid tests capable of providing quantitative measurements of soil concentrations in the field, real-time forecasting of future pesticide concentrations now looks possible for the first time. Such an approach offers new means to manage crops, soils and water quality, and may be extended to other classes of pesticides for ecological risk assessment purposes.
    • Reducing nitrous oxide emissions by changing N fertiliser use from calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) to urea based formulations

      Harty, Mary A.; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Watson, C. J.; McGeough, K. L.; Carolan, Rachael; Elliott, C.; Krol, Dominika; Laughlin, Ronald J.; Richards, Karl G.; Lanigan, Gary; et al. (Elsevier, 04/05/2016)
      The accelerating use of synthetic nitrogen (N) fertilisers, to meet the world's growing food demand, is the primary driver for increased atmospheric concentrations of nitrous oxide (N2O). The IPCC default emission factor (EF) for N2O from soils is 1% of the N applied, irrespective of its form. However, N2O emissions tend to be higher from nitrate-containing fertilisers e.g. calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) compared to urea, particularly in regions, which have mild, wet climates and high organic matter soils. Urea can be an inefficient N source due to NH3 volatilisation, but nitrogen stabilisers (urease and nitrification inhibitors) can improve its efficacy. This study evaluated the impact of switching fertiliser formulation from calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) to urea-based products, as a potential mitigation strategy to reduce N2O emissions at six temperate grassland sites on the island of Ireland. The surface applied formulations included CAN, urea and urea with the urease inhibitor N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) and/or the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD). Results showed that N2O emissions were significantly affected by fertiliser formulation, soil type and climatic conditions. The direct N2O emission factor (EF) from CAN averaged 1.49% overall sites, but was highly variable, ranging from 0.58% to 3.81. Amending urea with NBPT, to reduce ammonia volatilisation, resulted in an average EF of 0.40% (ranging from 0.21 to 0.69%)-compared to an average EF of 0.25% for urea (ranging from 0.1 to 0.49%), with both fertilisers significantly lower and less variable than CAN. Cumulative N2O emissions from urea amended with both NBPT and DCD were not significantly different from background levels. Switching from CAN to stabilised urea formulations was found to be an effective strategy to reduce N2O emissions, particularly in wet, temperate grassland.
    • Relating growth potential and biofilm formation of Shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli to in planta colonisation and the metabolome of ready- to-eat crops

      Merget, Bernhard; Forbes, Ken J; Brennan, Fiona P.; McAteer, Sean P; Shepherd, Tom; Strachan, Norval J; Holden, Nicola; FSA; Scottish Rural & Environment Science & Analytical Services Division; FS101056 (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 2019-01-17)
      Contamination of fresh produce with pathogenic Escherichia coli, including Shigatoxigenic E. coli (STEC), represents a serious risk to human health. Colonisation is governed by multiple bacterial and plant factors that can impact on the probability and suitability of bacterial growth. Thus, we aimed to determine whether the growth potential of STEC for plants associated with foodborne outbreaks (two leafy vegetables and two sprouted seed species), is predictive for colonisation of living plants as assessed from growth kinetics and biofilm formation in plant extracts. Fitness of STEC was compared to environmental E. coli, at temperatures relevant to plant growth. Growth kinetics in plant extracts varied in a plant-dependent and isolate-dependent manner for all isolates, with spinach leaf lysates supporting the fastest rates of growth. Spinach extracts also supported the highest levels of biofilm formation. Saccharides were identified as the major driver of bacterial growth, although no single metabolite could be correlated with growth kinetics. The highest level of in planta colonisation occurred on alfalfa sprouts, though internalisation was 10-times more prevalent in the leafy vegetables than in sprouted seeds. Marked differences in in planta growth meant that growth potential could only be inferred for STEC for sprouted seeds. In contrast, biofilm formation in extracts related to spinach colonisation. Overall, the capacity of E. coli to colonise, grow and internalise within plants or plant-derived matrices were influenced by the isolate type, plant species, plant tissue type and temperature, complicating any straight-forward relationship between in vitro and in planta behaviours. Importance Fresh produce is an important vehicle for STEC transmission and experimental evidence shows that STEC can colonise plants as secondary hosts, but differences in the capacity to colonise occur between different plant species and tissues. Therefore, an understanding of the impact of these plant factors have on the ability of STEC to grow and establish is required for food safety considerations and risk assessment. Here, we determined whether growth and the ability of STEC to form biofilms in plants extracts could be related to specific plant metabolites or could predict the ability of the bacteria to colonise living plants. Growth rates for sprouted seeds (alfalfa and fenugreek) exhibited a positive relationship between plant extracts and living plants, but not for leafy vegetables (lettuce and spinach). Therefore, the detailed variations at the level of the bacterial isolate, plant species and tissue type all need to be considered in risk assessment.
    • The response of sward-dwelling arthropod communities to reduced grassland management intensity in pastures

      Helden, Alvin J.; Anderson, Annette; Finn, John; Purvis, Gordon (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2015-12-30)
      We compared arthropod taxon richness, diversity and community structure of two replicated grassland husbandry experiments to investigate effects of reduced management intensity, as measured by nutrient input levels (390, 224 and 0 kg/ha per year N in one experiment, and 225 and 88 kg/ha per year N in another). Suction sampling was used to collect Araneae, Coleoptera, Hemiptera and Hymenoptera, with Araneae and Coleoptera also sampled with pitfall trapping. Univariate analyses found no significant differences in abundance and species density between treatments. However, with multivariate analysis, there were significant differences in arthropod community structure between treatments in both experiments. Reducing N input and associated stocking rates, as targeted by agri-environment schemes, can significantly alter arthropod communities but without increasing the number of species present. Other approaches that may be necessary to achieve substantial enhancement of sward arthropod biodiversity are suggested.
    • A Response to the Draft Climate Change Adaptation Sectoral Plan for Agriculture, Forest and Seafood Sector

      Farrelly, Niall; Lanigan, Gary; Donnellan, Trevor; Richards, Karl; Fealy, Reamonn; O’Donovan, Michael; Mellander, Per-Erik; Mullins, Ewen; Houlihan, Tom; Ní Fhlatharta, Nuala; et al. (2019-08-30)
      Teagasc is pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this Draft Climate Change Adaptation Sectoral Plan for Agriculture, Forest and Seafood Sectors, although our contribution will largely be limited to the agriculture and forestry sectors. We have also taken the liberty to contribute in the form of ‘submissions, observations and comments’ as indicated in the call for contributions rather than in the formal questionnaire which appears to be more appropriate for an individual submission rather than an organisational contribution.
    • A Response to the Draft National Mitigation Plan. Teagasc submission to the Department of Communications, Climate Action & theEnvironment

      Lanigan, Gary; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Gultzer, Carsten; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Farrelly, Niall; Shalloo, Laurence; O’Brien, Donal; Ryan, Mary; Murphy, Pat; et al. (Teagasc, 2017-04)
      This submission details the mitigation potential of agriculture to shortly be published as an update to the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) for Agriculture and and describes how the MACC mitigation strategies relate to the measures in the National Mitigation Plan.
    • A review of evidence on the environmental impact of Ireland’s Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS)

      Finn, John; O hUallachain, Daire (Royal Irish Academy, 2012-04)
      Since its inception in 1994, there has been strong demand for evidence of the environmental effectiveness of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS), which paid farmers in the Republic of Ireland over €3 billion by 2010. A variety of research projects have been undertaken that investigate the environmental effects of REPS through an examination of either specific environmental measures or specific geographical areas. A review of available publications confirmed the absence of a comprehensive, national-scale study of the environmental impacts of REPS. Because of this, there is insufficient evidence with which to judge the environmental effectiveness of the national-scale implementation of the whole scheme. For some specific measures, however, sufficient evidence is available to inform an objective assessment in some cases, and to help learn how to improve environmental effectiveness in most cases. The majority of the REPS payments are now dedicated toward biodiversity objectives. Thus, biodiversity measures and options should be a priority for any national-scale environmental assessment of the scheme. Such a study would help identify the environmental benefits of REPS, the specific elements of REPS that are performing adequately, and those elements that are in need of improvement. Given the considerable overlap between REPS measures and options and those included in the 2010 Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS), assessment of REPS measures could also be used to inform the likely environmental performance of the AEOS.
    • A review of nitrous oxide mitigation by farm nitrogen management in temperate grassland-based agriculture

      Li, Dejun; Watson, C. J.; Yan, Ming Jia; Lalor, Stanley T. J.; Rafique, Rashid; Hyde, Bernard; Lanigan, Gary; Richards, Karl G.; Holden, Nicholas M.; Humphreys, James; et al. (Elsevier, 20/07/2013)
      Nitrous oxide (N2O) emission from grassland-based agriculture is an important source of atmospheric N2O. It is hence crucial to explore various solutions including farm nitrogen (N) management to mitigate N2O emissions without sacrificing farm profitability and food supply. This paper reviews major N management practices to lower N2O emission from grassland-based agriculture. Restricted grazing by reducing grazing time is an effective way to decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Balancing the protein-to-energy ratios in the diets of ruminants can also decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Among the managements of synthetic fertilizer N application, only adjusting fertilizer N rate and slow-released fertilizers are proven to be effective in lowering N2O emissions. Use of bedding materials may increase N2O emissions from animal houses. Manure storage as slurry, manipulating slurry pH to values lower than 6 and storage as solid manure under anaerobic conditions help to reduce N2O emissions during manure storage stage. For manure land application, N2O emissions can be mitigated by reducing manure N inputs to levels that satisfy grass needs. Use of nitrification inhibitors can substantially lower N2O emissions associated with applications of fertilizers and manures and from urine patches. N2O emissions from legume based grasslands are generally lower than fertilizer-based systems. In conclusion, effective measures should be taken at each step during N flow or combined options should be used in order to mitigate N2O emission at the farm level.
    • A review of phosphorus and sediment release from Irish tillage soils, the methods used to quantify losses and the current state of mitigation practice

      Regan, J. T.; Fenton, Owen; Healy, Mark G.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Royal Irish Academy, 20/03/2012)
      Throughout the European Union (EU), agricultural soils with high phosphorus (P) status due to surplus fertiliser input have been identifi ed as a landscape pressure impacting on water quality. In Republic of Ireland, approximately 80% of agricultural land is devoted to grass, 11% to rough grazing, and 9% to arable cereal and crop production. Consequently, the majority of erosion research has focused on quantifying nutrient and sediment losses from grassland. Tillage soils are, however, more susceptible to erosion than grassland soils and, in general, have higher levels of soil P. This paper reviews the current state of research and the regulatory regime relating to diffuse P and sediment loss for tillage soils. It identifi es the key threats to soil quality associated with cultivated soils, and proposes the targeting and remediation of critical source areas for effective mitigation of P losses from tillage soils. A multiscaled approach is recommended, in which catchment and field-scale monitoring is complemented with controlled laboratory and small plot-scale rainfall simulation experiments to identify areas where P loss and soil erosion are at critical levels and may pose a threat to water quality. Catchment scale research will help to link critical source areas of sediment and P loss with hydrological pathways to surface waters in the catchment area. These areas can then be targeted for remediation in the river basin management plans.
    • A review of remediation and control systems for the treatment of agricultural waste water in Ireland to satisfy the requirements of the water framework directive

      Fenton, Owen; Healy, Mark G.; Schulte, Rogier P. (Royal Irish Academy, 28/08/2008)
      In Ireland agricultural activities have been identified as major sources of nutrient input to receiving waters, and it has been estimated that these activities contribute 75.3% of the N and 33.4% of the P found in these waters. The strategy at European level focuses on the prevention of nutrient loss by improved farm management. However, it does not focus on nutrient remediation or incidental nutrient loss from farmyard manures to surface water and groundwater. This review describes the impact of agriculture on the environment in Ireland and examines emerging technologies for agricultural waste-water treatment. An integrated approach at pretreatment and field stages for nitrate (NO3) remediation and P control is recommended.
    • A review of the pesticide MCPA in the land‐water environment and emerging research needs

      Morton, Phoebe A.; Fennell, Chris; Cassidy, Rachel; Doody, Donnacha; Fenton, Owen; Mellander, Per‐Erik; Jordan, Phil; European Union; 727450; IVA5018 (Wiley, 2019-12-03)
      Due to its high solubility and poor adsorption to the soil matrix, the postemergence herbicide 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) is susceptible to transport into surface and groundwater bodies, where it can result in compromised water quality and breaches of legislative standards. However, there is still poor understanding of catchment scale dynamics and transport, particularly across heterogeneous hydrogeological settings. While it is known that MCPA degrades under aerobic conditions, negligible breakdown can occur in anaerobic environments, potentially creating a legacy in saturated soils. Fast runoff pathways post application are likely transport routes, but the relative contribution from the mobilization of legacy MCPA from anaerobic zones has yet to be quantified, making the delineation of MCPA sources encountered during monitoring programs challenging. While ecotoxicological effects have been examined, little is known about the interaction of MCPA (and its degradation products) with other pesticides, with nutrients or with colloids, and how this combines with environmental conditions to contribute to multiple stressor effects. We examine the state of MCPA knowledge, using case study examples from Ireland, and consider the implications of its widespread detection in waterbodies and drinking water supplies. Research themes required to ensure the sustainable and safe use of MCPA in an evolving agricultural, social and political landscape are identified here. These include the need to identify mitigation measures and/or alternative treatments, to gain insights into the conditions governing mobilization and attenuation, to map pathways of migration and to identify direct, synergistic and antagonistic ecotoxicological effects.
    • Riparian vegetated margins and small mammal communities: Implications for agri-environment schemes

      O hUallachain, Daire; Madden, D.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin in association with Teagasc, 2011)
      Small mammals play a vital role in agricultural ecosystems and influence the diversity and abundance of avian and terrestrial predators. Increasing small mammal populations on farmland is important for improving the biodiversity of agricultural ecosystems. This study assessed the small mammal communities associated with 42 riparian margins in the south-east of Ireland. Riparian margins were separated into those dominated by grassy, scrubby or woody vegetation. Results suggested that riparian margins dominated by woody vegetation had the greatest abundance of small mammals. Significantly more small mammals were captured in woody habitats as opposed to grassy or scrubby habitats. Although they had the greatest abundance of small mammals, woody habitats showed the least diversity, with the small mammal community consisting almost entirely of woodmice. Results from this study suggest that current Irish agri-environmental measures, which can lead to succession of vegetation and result in scrub and wood dominated margins, do not promote small mammal diversity in riparian margins. Current prescriptions are not providing optimal habitat for protected species such as the pygmy shrew. Future agri-environment measures should promote heterogeneity of watercourse margins, which in turn will enhance small mammal abundance and also their diversity.
    • Risk Assessment of E. coli Survival Up to the Grazing Exclusion Period After Dairy Slurry, Cattle Dung, and Biosolids Application to Grassland

      Ashekuzzaman, S.M.; Richards, Karl G.; Ellis, Stephanie; Tyrrel, Sean; O'Leary, Emma; Griffiths, Bryan; Ritz, Karl; Fenton, Owen; European Union; 265269 (Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 10/07/2018)
      Grassland application of dairy slurry, cattle dung, and biosolids offers an opportunity to recycle valuable nutrients (N, P, and K), which may all introduce pathogens to the soil environment. Herein, a temporal risk assessment of the survival of Escherichia coli (E. coli) up to 40 days in line with the legislated grazing exclusion time points after application was examined across six scenarios: (1) soil and biosolids mixture, (2) biosolids amended soil, (3) dairy slurry application, (4) cattle dung on pasture, (5) comparison of scenario 2, 3, and 4, and (6) maximum legal vs. excess rate of application for scenario 2 and 3. The risk model input parameters were taken or derived from regressions within the literature and an uncertainty analysis (n = 1,000 trials for each scenario) was conducted. Scenario 1 results showed that E. coli survival was higher in the soil/biosolids mixture for higher biosolids portion, resulting in the highest 20 day value of residual E. coli concentration (i.e., C20, log10 CFU g−1 dw) of 1.0 in 100% biosolids or inoculated soil and the lowest C20 of 0.098 in 75/25 soil/biosolids ratio, respectively, in comparison to an average initial value of 6.4 log10 CFU g−1 dw. The E. coli survival across scenario 2, 3, and 4 showed that the C20 value of biosolids (0.57 log10 CFU g−1 dw) and dairy slurry (0.74 log10 CFU ml−1) was 2.9–3.7 times smaller than that of cattle dung (2.12 log10 CFU g−1 dw). The C20 values of biosolids and dairy slurry associated with legal and excess application rates ranged from 1.14 to 1.71 log10 CFU ha−1, which is a significant reduction from the initial concentration range (12.99 to 14.83 log10 CFU ha−1). The E. coli survival in un-amended soil was linear with a very low decay rate resulting in a higher C20 value than that of biosolids or dairy slurry. The risk assessment and uncertainly analysis showed that the residual concentrations in biosolids/dairy slurry applied soil after 20 days would be 45–57% lower than that of the background soil E. coli concentration. This means the current practice of grazing exclusion times is safe to reduce the risk of E. coli transmission into the soil environment.
    • Risk Assessment of E. coli Survival Up to the Grazing Exclusion Period After Dairy Slurry, Cattle Dung, and Biosolids Application to Grassland

      Ashekuzzaman, S.M.; Richards, Karl G.; Ellis, Stephanie; Tyrrel, Sean; O'Leary, Emma; Griffiths, Bryan; Ritz, Karl; Fenton, Owen; European Union; 265269 (Frontiers, 2018-07-10)
      Grassland application of dairy slurry, cattle dung, and biosolids offers an opportunity to recycle valuable nutrients (N, P, and K), which may all introduce pathogens to the soil environment. Herein, a temporal risk assessment of the survival of Escherichia coli (E. coli) up to 40 days in line with the legislated grazing exclusion time points after application was examined across six scenarios: (1) soil and biosolids mixture, (2) biosolids amended soil, (3) dairy slurry application, (4) cattle dung on pasture, (5) comparison of scenario 2, 3, and 4, and (6) maximum legal vs. excess rate of application for scenario 2 and 3. The risk model input parameters were taken or derived from regressions within the literature and an uncertainty analysis (n = 1,000 trials for each scenario) was conducted. Scenario 1 results showed that E. coli survival was higher in the soil/biosolids mixture for higher biosolids portion, resulting in the highest 20 day value of residual E. coli concentration (i.e., C20, log10 CFU g−1 dw) of 1.0 in 100% biosolids or inoculated soil and the lowest C20 of 0.098 in 75/25 soil/biosolids ratio, respectively, in comparison to an average initial value of ~6.4 log10 CFU g−1 dw. The E. coli survival across scenario 2, 3, and 4 showed that the C20 value of biosolids (0.57 log10 CFU g−1 dw) and dairy slurry (0.74 log10 CFU ml−1) was 2.9–3.7 times smaller than that of cattle dung (2.12 log10 CFU g−1 dw). The C20 values of biosolids and dairy slurry associated with legal and excess application rates ranged from 1.14 to 1.71 log10 CFU ha−1, which is a significant reduction from the initial concentration range (12.99 to 14.83 log10 CFU ha−1). The E. coli survival in un-amended soil was linear with a very low decay rate resulting in a higher C20 value than that of biosolids or dairy slurry. The risk assessment and uncertainly analysis showed that the residual concentrations in biosolids/dairy slurry applied soil after 20 days would be 45–57% lower than that of the background soil E. coli concentration. This means the current practice of grazing exclusion times is safe to reduce the risk of E. coli transmission into the soil environment.
    • Roadmap for the European Joint Program SOIL: Towards Climate-Smart Sustainable Management of Agricultural Soils

      Saskia, Visser; Saskia, Keesstra; Órlaith, Ní Choncubhair; Titia, Mulder; Edoardo, Costantini; Francois, Sousanna Jean; Claire, Chenu; Peter, Kuikman; Jennie, Barron; Niels, Halberg; et al. (MDPI AG, 2020-06-23)
      Our planet suffers from humankind’s impact on natural resources, biogeochemical cycles and ecosystems. Intensive modern agriculture with inappropriate inputs of fertilisers, pesticides and fossil fuel –based energy has increasingly added to human pressure on the environment. As a key element of our natural capital, soils are also under threat, despite being essential to provide food, feed, fibre and fuel for an increasing global population. Moreover, soils play a key role in carbon, water and energy cycles, highlighting their importance for biomass provision and the circular bioeconomy. Evidently, these new and complex challenges cannot be resolved effectively with existing knowledge and experience alone. These challenges require scientific research, interdisciplinary collaboration and networking to find context-specific and tailored solutions addressing societal issues of our time and facilitating the adoption of these solutions. The most effective approaches are based on the involvement of multiple actors from science, policy, economy, civil society and farming that have the same goal, work on the same societal issue, but have complementing backgrounds, expertise and perceptions. The European Joint Programme (EJP) SOIL is a European network of research institutes in the field of soil science and agricultural soil management that will provide science-based advice to practitioners and policymakers, at local, national and European level. The EJP SOIL aims to align and boost research, training and capacity building through joint programming activities co-funded by the European Commission and national research programs. This will reduce current fragmentation and help to find synergies in order to make a leapfrog in research on good agricultural soil management in three main areas: climate change mitigation and adaptation, production capacity in healthy food systems, and environmental sustainability. By joint programming, training and capacity building, EJP SOIL will also take into account the need for effective policy solutions, as well as the socio-economic conditions of all stakeholders in the agricultural value chain. Thus, a key focus of the EJP SOIL is to build and strengthen a framework for an integrated community of research groups working on related aspects of agricultural soil management. As part of this effort, EJP SOIL will co-construct with stakeholders a roadmap for agricultural soil research. To develop a structured roadmap, EJP SOIL works with a version of the knowledge management framework of Dalkir (2005). The EJP version uses four compartments: (i) Knowledge development, (ii) knowledge harmonisation, organisation and storage (iii) knowledge sharing and transfer, and (iv) knowledge application. The four segments are part of a cyclic process to enhance the development and use of knowledge on agricultural soils. Knowledge development comprises assessing new knowledge needs to achieve the expected impacts of EJP SOIL. Therefore, by involving multiple stakeholders, knowledge gaps across Europe will be identified to work towards the adoption of Climate-Smart Sustainable Agricultural Soil Management (CSSASM). Within the knowledge sharing and transfer compartment, the capacity of scientists, advisors, policy makers, farmers and other stakeholders will be strengthened. EJP SOIL will work to support networks and co-creation of new knowledge with stakeholder groups, stimulating innovation in CSSASM. The knowledge harmonization, organization and storage compartment of the knowledge framework ensures linkages with all stakeholders to guarantee data harmonization and standardization. The last compartment, application of knowledge, will be facilitated by creating better guidelines, awareness and capacity for Climate-Smart Sustainable Agricultural Soil Management adoption and by strengthening science-to-policy processes at EU and Member State level.